Malaysia’s king names reformist leader Anwar Ibrahim prime minister

The announcement ended days of uncertainties after divisive general elections produced a hung parliament.

Malaysia’s king names reformist leader Anwar Ibrahim prime minister

Malaysia’s king named reformist opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim as the country’s prime minister on Thursday.

Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah’s announcement ended days of uncertainties after divisive general elections produced a hung parliament.

Mr Anwar’s Alliance of Hope led Saturday’s election with 82 seats, short of the 112 needed for a majority.

United Malays National Organization President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi waves as he leaves after meeting with King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah at National Palace in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday
United Malays National Organisation President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi waves as he leaves after meeting with King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah at National Palace on Wednesday (Vincent Thian/AP)

Mr Anwar emerged victorious after other smaller blocs agreed to support him for a unity government. His rise to the top will ease anxieties in the multiracial nation over greater Islamisation under Mr Muhyiddin and spark hopes that reforms for better governance will resume.

Many rural Malays, who form two-thirds of Malaysia’s 33 million people, which include large minorities of ethnic Chinese and Indians, fear they may lose their rights with greater pluralism.

This, together with corruption in the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), has benefited Mr Muhyiddin’s bloc.

Malaysia Election
Anwar Ibrahim during a press conference in Subang, Malaysia (Vincent Thian/AP)

Anger over government corruption had led to UMNO’s shocking defeat in 2018 to Mr Anwar’s bloc that saw the first regime change since Malaysia’s independence in 1957.

The watershed polls had sparked hopes of reforms as once-powerful UMNO leaders were jailed or hauled to court for graft. But political guile and defections by Mr Muhyiddin’s party led to the government’s collapse after 22 months.

UMNO bounced back as part of a new government with Mr Muhyiddin’s bloc, but infighting led to continuous turmoil.

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